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Vertical transmission, also known as mother-to-child transmission, is the transmission of an infection or other disease from mother to child immediately before and after birth during the perinatal period. A pathogen's transmissibility refers to its capacity for vertical transmission. The concept of vertical transmission is also used in population genetics to describe inheritance of an allele or condition from either the father or mother.

Vertical transmission tends to evolve benign symbiosis. It is therefore a critical concept for evolutionary medicine.

Because a pathogen's ability to pass from parent to child depends significantly on the hosts ability to reproduce, pathogens' transmissibility tends to be inversely related with their virulence. In other words, as pathogens become more harmful to and thus decrease the reproduction rate of their host organism, they are less likely to be able pass on to the hosts' offspring since there will be fewer offspring.[1]

In Dual Inheritance Theory, vertical transmission refers to the passing of cultural traits from parents to children.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Stewart, AD; Logsdon, JM; Kelley, SE (April 2005). "An empirical study of the evolution of virulence under both horizontal and vertical transmission". Evolution 59 (4): 730-739. doi:10.1554/03-330. PMID 15926685. 
  2. ^ Cavalli-Sfornza, L. and M. Feldman. 1981. Cultural Transmission and Evolution: A Quantitative Approach. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.


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